A friend of mine, Ben, who I met a couple of years ago, was thrown out of New Steine Mews hostel in Brighton, for making a "homophobic" remark. I really had no idea that you could be arrested for saying something to someone which offends them, but then, hey, this is Brighton and this is modern Britain.
Having been arrested, cuffed and taken for 15 hours to Hollingbury Police Station for making a 'remark', Ben was released because the Crown Prosecution Service saw that no action was necessary and that the 'remark' had been misconstrued. I find it frightening that one can be arrested in modern Britain for saying something that someone else finds offensive.
More than that, though, Ben was thrown onto the street, in the cold and rain, by a homeless hostel, for Heaven's sake, for nothing other than saying the 'wrong' thing. Aren't these hostel workers just so 'sensitive'?! This is a flagrant abuse of power by New Steine Mews, the Brighton and Hove City Council ran homeless hostel. Ben had no sleeping bag, nothing, nothing but his clothes on him, and was turfed out to sleep in the cold and wet. I do sometimes wonder whether the hostel workers are suitable to working with vulnerable people with 'issues', or whether they really belong to a desk job in an office where they don't have to face the homeless people who they clearly secretly despise or who they fear, or both.
Gay rights advocates seem to have won an enduring battle to ensure that they are never offended, yet, as far as I can see, no human rights organisation exists in order to secure any fundamental rights for homeless men and homeless women in Britain in the 21st century. Where, exactly, is the 'equality', not just for Christians, or any other religious group, but for the most vulnerable in society?
I am certainly not in the habit of buying homeless people guitars, but Ben is a friend and an excellent blues guitarist and I'd just so happened to see a very cheap one in a charity shop when I met him recently. If I can, I'll post up a video of him playing either some of his own material or some John Lee Hooker. It would be criminal for him not to have a guitar. Not much seems to ever go right for Ben and he is very much misunderstood by the very people who are in the business of offering support for those troubled individuals who suffer with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues. I told Ben that I could try and write an article and send it to The Argus, but I'm not sure whether they would publish it. The Council get away with an awful lot of unjust behaviour in Brighton and I believe that, at some point, the fourth estate needs to bring them to account.